My first batch of the French macarons...and look! They've got feet! They've got feet!!
French macarons are infamously finicky to make, and supposedly even experienced pastry cooks can botch them up too, although probably far less frequently than amateur bakers. I had a lot of egg whites leftover from making a lemon tart, so I thought macarons would be a fun thing to try - they look so pretty and dainty. Tiny food is fun!
I had no idea French macarons were so popular to bake among pastry bloggers and foodies! I couldn't believe the number of blogs I found that referenced them. Here are a few: My Food Geek, Tartelette (who wrote a fantastic 'Macarons 101' article in downloadable pdf format), Serious Eats, Veronica's Test Kitchen, Mad Baker. You'll be able to link to lots of other info on macarons from these sites.
After a ton of reading, I decided on a chocolate raspberry macaron based on this recipe from Epicurious, but used the basic macaron batter recipe from Serious Eats. I was honestly expecting my macarons to be pretty disastrous - cracked, mishapen and footless (macarons form little ruffles at their base if made properly). Imagine my shock when the macarons turned out beautifully! Yippee!
Actually, I should say they looked beautiful; the texture was a little off. French macarons are meant to be crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. Unlike American style macaroons, they are made only of egg white, ground almond, and sugar. My guess is that I overbaked them, or that it had something to do with the egg whites not whipping up properly. No matter. I'm still very happy that they developed feet! Plus the chocolate ganache makes everything better.
A few notes from my first batch:
- All the recipes said to leave the egg whites out at room temperature, with the length of time varying anywhere between 30 minutes to 72 hours! This freaked me out somewhat, as I was expecting a moldy mess, but it was fine. Apparently this helps them whip up to a greater volume.
- I had trouble whipping my egg whites up properly, probably because there was some residual grease on the beaters (from making buttercream icing). Note to self: wash all egg white equipment very well next time, and wipe down with a bit of lemon juice.
- The whites only ever reached a soft peak stage, so batter was quite loose and runny.
- All the recipes and notes I read online said to mix the batter until it reached a 'magma-like consistency'. How am I supposed to know how magma flows if I've never seen it? I can only imagine. So I guessed.
- When I piped my macarons, the batter was so runny that each one spread rapidly and looked very flat:
- I left them out for about 20 minutes to form a skin (to avoid cracks, I think) and encourage the development of feet (I think)
OK, I'll be honest. Not all of them turned out prettily...here is the tasty reject pile. Stay tuned for more adventures with macarons, this time with lemon!